CHARLIE S. HUGHES was the pilot of; |
FLOSSIE FLIRT, MYRTLE THE FERTILE TURTLE, BIG FAT BUTTERFLY AND OTHER GREAT B-24s
In March, 1943, while in route to England, Lt. Charles Hughes contracted a case of the measles. He was held over in Florida and separated from his crew. When he finally arrived in England, he learned that he had been bumped from B-17s to B-24s. He arrived in Shipdham just in time to join the raid to the Krups Submarine Works in Kiel.
Three days later he joined the low level mission to Bordeau wiping out Docks and Sub Pens. These two blows were at the heart of the project to weaken the grip of Commodore Karl Donitz and his U-Boats, so merchant and troop ships could make it safely to England.
Krups Sub Base
While plans for Ploesti were being formulated, Lt. Hughes and his crew were flying into Naples, Rome and the Airdromes and Communication Centers in Sicily, all in preparation for the onslaught of Generals George Patton and Bernard Montgomery.
Then there was Ploesti. It was Hughes' 1Oth mission. He was part of the last wave of planes consisting of four airplanes bombing at 400 feet on 'White Five', following Col. Leon Johnson. Flossie Flirt, AC 424077, made it safely across the target only to be riddled with rifles, machine guns and pistols, so (to quote Lt. Spencer S. Hunn, co-pilot) 'the fuselage looked like a sieve.' Major Charles Hughes, May f 945.
Pursued by a German fighter, they looked for a bomber to tack onto, but it was shot down. They picked another, and it went down. Then a fighter got on their tail, to his own demise. They saw him crash. Hughes moved into the sanctuary of a cloud and took stock of their situation. There was not enough fuel to return to Libya, there were holes in each of the wings, a real control cable was hanging by a few strands. Both Waist Gunners, Sgts. Stanley G. Nalipa and Robert L. Albine were wounded. So the pilots made the decision to take Flossie Flirt and her crew to the neutral country of Turkey and internment.
Six weeks later, with the help of a local AAF Attaache', Hughes and three of his fellow captives managed to escape, two by train, two by boat to Izmir. (They couldn't run off during the day as they were on parole duty, and had signed a paper, promising not to use that opportunity to escape). At that time, the British were recruiting young Greeks for help in fighting the Germans. Working for the British, the captain of an Italian fishing vessel was in the business of transporting volunteers in groups of eight to Cyprus. So, passing themselves off as recent recruits, the four airmen sailed across the Mediterranean, along with four Greek enlistees. Once an Italian officer boarded to search the boat. Eight men hid in the bottom of the boat, escaping detection. Two months later, the Americans were back in England with a new crew.
Big Fat Butterfly took Captain Hughes to Pas de Calais; My Sad Ass carried Major Hughes to Weimar, Brunswick and Passau. He flew in Queen Marlene, Myrtle, the Fertile Turtle, and many more. He became Assistant A-3 in the 95th Combat Wing, a temporary assignment as the Wing was disbanded after their commander Col. Frederick Dent was seriously wounded.
Next he went to the 44th Group Operators and then to the 66th Squadron and shortly thereafter assumed command. His last mission was April 18, 1945. He came home from England in a new B-24 M, which had never flown in combat, then turned it in at Bradley Field, Conn., to go to the scrap pile.
Returning to the States in May, 1945, Hughes flew B-29s in Mexico. When the Pacific War was over, he took advantage of the G.I. Bill, going to Stanford to complete his education. While there, he returned to active duty in the regular Army as a Major on flying status.
After graduation, he was assigned to the Research and Development Board in the Pentagon. This was followed by five years in California, involved in the Development of Ballistic Missiles, followed by five years of RscD at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. His last tour of duty, was Commander of the Air Force Satellite Test Center in Sunnyvale, California, which was the Command Control of all Air Force Satellites.
He was the part of the team that developed the technique for recovering the Space Capsule. Much of
the work in which he was involved is only now being declassified.
Charlie Hughes retired as a Colonel in 1971. He and his wife Maria reside in California. He has one living
daughter (having lost one daughter), and three grandsons.
Military Decorations include:
Distinguished Flying Cross,
Air Medal w/6 OLCs,
ETO Ribbon w/9 Battle Stars,
Air Force Commendation Medal,
Legion of Merit w/OLC.